Skintroduction with Helen
Little known fact: I had really, really bad skin in high school. (Of course, not so little known if you actually knew me in highschool. So, cool.) Cue everyone rolling their eyes and muttering, you and EVERYONE ELSE, girl, but take me seriously for one second. When I say bad I mean capital B-A-D bad. I mean cystic acne on my cheeks and a constant sprinkling of the same on my forehead, nose and chin. Sometimes even my neck and arms. No, I wasn’t on steroids. Yes, I did want to hide from the world.
From ages twelve to nineteen, I had just about zero relief. And I tried everything. Every over-the-counter option available, late night TV ads boasting total clarity in three weeks (I SEE YOU, PRO-ACTIV), prescription creams, potions, pills, etc. Just about the only thing that never crossed my skin’s fragile, senstiveass barrier was Accutane (thanks for your skepticism on that one, mom – seriously).
Nothing helped, at least not for long. At my worst point, I overheard a much older girl comment that it was a shame my skin made me so ugly. When I decided to treat myself to some fancy makeup to make myself feel better, the women in the phony white lab coat behind the counter frowned, shook her head, and directed me to yet another failed skin care solution. I cried by the scarves. Mostly because in moments like this I knew that every time my friends and family reassured me that “nobody is paying any attention to your skin”, they were just being nice.
My skin isn’t perfect now, but it’s way waaaay better than it was in 2002. Even though I think it’s probably a lot more stressful to be an adult (even though as a teenager, you are programmed to believe otherwise? Unless you are Kylie Jenner?), my skin cleared up the most when I decided to go vegetarian in 2009. Now, disclaimer for a second here: I’m not saying vegetarianism is the key to clear skin. What I am saying is that when I took meat off the menu, I also naturally veered away from some typical go-to’s of mine (i.e. fast or frozen food). Just this one, seemingly small change did wonders. It wasn’t an overnight turn, but suddenly my skin wasn’t … wait. Could I see a patch of skin that didn’t have acne on it? Seriously? Who was this girl looking back in the mirror at me?
Several years now gone by, I’ve also more or less cut out dairy from my diet as well. And what prompted this final crossover, might you ask? Well, S.W. founder Adina’s book Skin Cleanse in fact! Even though I knew how my face reacted to milk or cheese and had previously heard evidence of this correlation to acne, I was finally convinced after Adina’s words challenged me to really take note of what my skin looked like after certain foods (annnnd products: ahem). While dairy didn’t always guarantee an immediate take-me-back-to-middle-school breakout (though sometimes this was true) it did show an overall cloudiness to my complexion. I was less radiant and girl, no one has time for that.
While there was still a lot of trial and error with skin products and food choices in between (what up, dessert), I found that when I simplified my skincare and my diet, my face calmed the f down. It’s not perfect. In fact, I’m currently nursing a monster zit on my chin this very moment. It hurts like a mother. But I’m glad to say it’s a rare exception these days. I can touch my face to the side of my pillow without wincing. Most days, a decade and a half later, that still feels like a miracle. But it’s also kind of cool to know that it’s pretty predictable, once you figure out your own personal patterns and triggers. It kind of let’s you decide what you’d rather have: a croissant or clear skin. Sometimes the CLEAR (yep) answer is the croissant. But it’s nice to treat yourself a little better and, as a result have the option to choose.